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Post 2020 Election Coverage Reviews

November 6th, 2020 · Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy, Politics


George Walker:
“Your election comments were brilliant and as good as anything by anyone I read anywhere.  You should be getting paid for this.  You nailed it all the way through.  Sometimes I would disagree with something you said, and then a couple weeks later I’d realize, ‘Oh yeah, Brian was right about that.’  And you wouldn’t just say things, you’d explain the thinking and facts behind it.  Anybody can just say stuff — but you would always back it up.  I looked forward to reading your new posts and comments every day.  Something would happen in the news and right away I’d wonder what Brian would have to say about it.  Professor Walker gives you an ‘A’ on your coverage.”

Cynthia Johnson:
Brian has been my virtual Xanax over the past few weeks.  Any calm I’ve felt is because I trusted his data and his take on things, even as I distrusted most conventional wisdom.  Thanks again, Brian.”
Thank you for all your hard work and brilliant cheerleading to keep us all sane and hopeful during this process.  Thank you for your devotion to Democracy and to America.  You are truly what we used to call in the HHH campaign way back in ’68 – A Great American (with dual citizenship!)  Much love to you my campaign trail road buddy.  We made it!”
To which Monica Bein replied, “Well said & totally agree about our Merry Politico buddy.”

Laurie Jones:
I am celebrating now.  Now.  Thank you Brian.  You helped me stay solid in the hard weeks and months so these last three days were not stressful.”

Cyndie Henderson:
Your posts are informative and down to earth.  Enjoyed the whole experience.”

Helen North: 
It’s great that you have kept this photo and you can now share with us all …. you did an amazing job Brian at keeping us informed …. and sharing your enthusiasm for politics with us …. you even educated me quite a lot in the last few weeks in regards to American Politics ….. great photo of you and the President of the United States !!!!”

Johnny Walker:
“Thank you for an astonishing effort at helping to make this remarkable day become a reality.  Thank you Thank you Thank you.”

Carrie McCarthy:
Thanks again Brian, for the continued honest and accurate reporting that was especially helpful to the sensitive souls that found watching traditional media too stressful.”

Eric Douglas Augustsen Mani:
I thought I should congratulate you in a campaign well fought for.  So many got out there and let their voices be heard and largely because of the efforts of people like you.  It is with that in this late Swedish morn I raise my cup of coffee to you and wish you CHEERS!!!  Peace & Love Our planet thanks you the children, the animals, the fish at sea, Mother Nature thank you!!!”
also — “YES!!! YES!!! Healthcare!!!  You did it Brian my beacon of light through he thick Orange haze of uncertainty!!!  A new day!!!”

Deanna Waters:
You have such a positive outlook on life and a sense of adventure.  Bravo!”

Brian Stevenson: 
Man, you and I got to meet someday Brian!  Let me say that your optimism and hope in your writings including your great new volume, and your current writings around this recent election, were and still are lighthouses for me.  Thank you.”



You can email me for a signed copy, or you can get the political Adventure book Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy here.

You can see a live show with readings from Blissfully Ravaged here —

You can read The Beat Museum founder Jerry Cimino’s killer Introduction to the book here.

You can read an excerpt from the book about New York’s reaction to Obama’s first election night here.


by Brian Hassett   —

Or here’s my Facebook account if you wanna join in there —

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Things You Can Do Beyond Voting

October 14th, 2020 · Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy, Politics

Yes — you can Vote — and maybe you’re already one of the record-shattering 11 million who’ve cast their ballot — but here’s some other fun cool proactive things you can do —>

Talk to your friends and neighbors and make sure they’ve got a plan to vote.

Check to make sure you’re registered — and check on behalf of your loved ones.

If you’re living outside of the country, you can still vote.  I’ve been involved with Democrats Abroad ever since I left Manhattan, and they’re a cool krewe.  Here’s how you can vote from abroad —

Talk to your third party leaning friends, or those who tend to cop out with “they’re all the same,” and politely explain how hate mongering and hate crimes have increased nationwide; about the lies told about a virus trump knew was deadly and how he turned mask wearing into something political instead of medical; how America has 5% of the world’s population but fully 25% of the world’s coronavirus deaths; how disenfranchising people’s votes is an active practice for an entire political party.

Put up Biden/Harris signs in your front yard or apartment window.
When one person does it, it often prompts others to, too.

You can find your state Democratic party website and info here —>

You can volunteer to phone bank for an hour from your home.  You’ll get to talk to some cool people you wouldn’t otherwise, and bank some votes that may otherwise have been squandered.

You can check in with people you know who don’t have a car and offer to drive them to their polling station.

You can send your own customized creative postcards if you wanna go old-school funky & personal.  There’s a cool group coordinating this called Postcards to Voters —

Also old-school but still effective — write a well-penned letter to the editor of your local newspaper.  Since less people do that now, you have more of a chance of getting printed, and/or having a nice published web link you can share around.

If you’ve got an extra $15 or more that you didn’t spend this month because you’re locked down, you can put it towards restoring sanity, empathy & respect to our governance.

You can call your senator and register how you want him or her to vote on the Supreme Court replacement.  Phone the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, and an operator will connect you directly with the Senate office you request.

You can do all of the above for the Senate candidates who are poised to stop the second most evil man in America, Moscow Mitch McConnell.

And that includes a particularly strong slate of women who would bring a different perspective to the law-making body:

Amy McGrath is McConnell’s opponent in Kentucky.

Sara Gideon is trying to unseat Susan Collins in Maine.

Theresa Greenfield is close to upsetting the trump yes-girl Joni Ernst in Iowa.

And Barbara Bollier is on the cusp of winning a Senate seat in Kansas of all places!

Plus there’s the very impressive Jon Ossoff taking on the Repugnant David Purdue in Georgia.

And Mike Espy is neck-&-neck with that crazy “I’d attend a lynching” Cindy Hyde-Smith in Mississippi.

And then there’s the cool smart Democrat-aligned Independent Dr. Al Gross who may unseat the Repugnant in Alaska.

No matter if you’re in a solid blue or solid red state — let alone a swing state! — every single vote that goes into the national kitty is one more voice — yours! — that history will record as voting against and putting an end to this racist-in-chief.

You want to feel good on November 3rd.

You want to fully enjoy the moment this nation will celebrate on that night, and on January 20th, and every day going forward.
And you don’t want that gnawing guilt in the pit of your stomach that you know you didn’t really do your part.

And boy — it’s gonna feel so good when you do it. 😉

And it’s free!  And it’s fun!  And it changes the world!
And how often do you get to do that?

Feel free to copy and share, and add your own personal touch if you want.

And if anybody has any other good ideas beyond simply voting, by all means let me know.




Here’s where you can get my Political Adventures book Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy.

Here’s the first show for the book — a live stream on Facebook — where I perform a part of this live —

Here’s where you can get the first book in The Beat Trilogy — The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac.

Here’s the second book in the Trilogy — How The Beats Begat The Pranksters.

Here’s the third book in the Trilogy — On The Road with Cassadys and Furthur Visions.


by Brian Hassett   —

Or here’s my Facebook account if you wanna join in there —

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Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy intro chapter

September 30th, 2020 · Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy, Politics

A lot of people got discouraged during 2016 — first the Berners supporting Sanders in the primary, then most of the nation with “the perfect storm” of the November electoral college disaster. Twice in my lifetime has this antiquated 1700s electoral college voting concept resulted in the loser of the vote becoming President. And both those times resulted in the #1 and #2 worst Presidents in modern history (by a long shot) that this country ever had the misfortune to have.

There is no other elected office in America you can win without winning the actual vote — and it just happens to be the most important one. Maybe this was a good idea back in the horse-&-buggy days, but it sure ain’t democracy now that everybody can actually vote.

Citizen participation goes back to … well, the Greeks (if you were a white native-born male 2,500 years ago), or women in America for the last hundred years, and minorities kinda mostly since 1965 (except since 2013 when the Roberts Supreme Court dishonorably and despicably rolled back the Voting Rights Act), and all of us who choose to be involved in the primary process since 1972. A lot of (particularly young) people seem to think the political world started in 2016 … and for them it’s been nothing but a disaster.

This is a terrible thing — and we’ve got to collectively work to re-engage and fix as best we can a flawed system.

In these pages I’m going to share some Adventure Tales about engagement in politics. It’s a helluva fun pursuit — and the winner gets to run the country! And speaking of running, there was a great documentary in 2007 called Run Granny Run about the inspirational Granny D from New Hampshire who ran for the U.S. Senate in 2004 at age 94. In it she said a line I’ve repeated often — “Democracy isn’t something we have, it’s something we do.”

That should be carved into marble in Washington somewhere. At least I’ll carve it into this paper and maybe your brain.

Democracy isn’t something we have,
it’s something we do.”

And we’ve all got a lot to do! 4 in 10 Americans think Donald Trump is doing a great job as president. (!) This makes zero sense to 6 in 10 Americans, but what this book is going to hopefully help do is get those 6 in 10 back to being passionately involved in the grand experiment that is America.

We’re each here for only a small sliver of time. I have many friends who have been engaged in politics and governance for longer than I’ve been alive; and I’ve got many younger friends who are still going to be involved in it (hopefully) long after I’m gone. But we each have to be engaged proactive stewards for the wee window we’re here.

Perhaps this is a good time to talk about age. According to my birth certificate from Kenya, I mean Calgary, I am supposedly 58 years old as I type this in early 2020 — but obviously there’s been some mistake because I feel like I’m 18. And I think the same drunk clerk was in the records office for a while because I know a bunch of people older than me that will swear on a stack of On The Roads that they are not the age their birth certificate says they are.

One of them is my 80-year-old stage partner, George Walker, who just put a new roof on his house by himself while simultaneously rebuilding a 1939 Furthur bus called “Farthur” to take On The Road in 2020. I also perform regularly with Jack Kerouac’s principal musical collaborator, David Amram, who is a still-improvising & wailing jazz cat at age 89. And I finally tracked down and interviewed Locke McCorkle who had the house in Mill Valley where Gary Snyder and Kerouac stayed that prompted the Dharma Bums adventure, and he told me that even though he’d just stopped racing motorcycles at age 85, he felt like he was 35. So, everybody reading this book who’s under 90 years old, there’s no excuse for not having full engagement in this life.

And this also relates to the current leader of the Democratic Party, Nancy Pelosi, who turned 80 in March 2020, as well as three of the four frontrunners in the Democratic primary — Joe Biden (77), Elizabeth Warren (70), and Bernie Sanders (78) — who are all bounding and bouncing with the same kind of vibrancy as Granny D or the jazz cat or the guy up putting on the new roof. 70 is the new 30, and 80 is the new 18.

The Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh also turned 80 in March 2020 and is actively involved in Get Out The Vote (GOTV) actions — as are all the members of Dead & Company.

If smart people in their 70s and 80s have not given up hope, have not become cynical, are still working hard every day to make the world a better place, that should be instructive to anyone in their teens or twenties or thereabouts that giving up is not an option. Or wise. Saying of candidates and political leaders “they’re all the same” is a cop-out and abdication of the rights and powers of citizenry. Just ask Granny D.

I was born and raised in Western Canada in a world with a mocking disdain for everything American, and anything from the East. I didn’t fit in in the least — left as soon as my “finish high school” box was ticked, never looked back, and became an American by choice as soon as I was able. I served nearly 30 years in Manhattan, and am now back in the land of the red-&-white outside Toronto, with the minute-by-minute madness of Manhattan no longer taking up every day of every week of every year, and time and distance to reflect on that massive round-trip road trip.

Although Americans love to pride themselves in being “#1” at everything — their system is the worst for democracy. In Canada (and the U.K. and a lot of other countries) a national election is called — and the whole thing’s over in six weeks — and costs 1/1000th what 2020 will cost America, not to mention the thousands of hours of print and broadcast and social media reading about the bickering between any two people.

But what America has is characters, drama and stakes. And as a friend said at the end of yet another great Grateful Dead show back in the Jerry days — “That’s why I keep comin’ back.”

Who wins these elongated and compromised elections gets control of the biggest property on the Western World gameboard. And when I say “compromised” — what I mean is gerrymandering and voter suppression and the candidates’ requirement of taking big money from big business (codified by the anti-democracy “Citizens United” Supreme Court decision of 2010) in order to buy media ads and hire staff in 50 states to coordinate more fundraising to pay for more fundraising.

America is leading the world in democracy-destroying gerrymandering — at least in the 37 states that allow it — where the state government fences in all the voters of the opposing party to one or as few congressional districts as possible, then gives the whole rest of the state to themselves. This is reason #1001 why getting involved in your state government is as important as engagement in a presidential election. And I may as well say it — it’s actually more. And you know what’s even more important than your state government? Your city government. I know it ain’t sexy, and it ain’t gonna be all over the TV and social media, but who your mayor and city council is makes a bigger difference in your life than who your president is.

I know in people’s heads they see the face of the president as the political person overseeing their life. But the counterintuitive truth is your quality of life, in general, is determined far more by your city council than your federal congress. Whether your water’s clean, your power’s on, you don’t get robbed on the way to the store, you’ve got paved roads to drive on, whether the literal and metaphorical trains run on train, what your property taxes are (which generally takes more of your income than your income tax) — all that stuff that really is your life is more your city and state governments than it is federal — so if any of this sinks in at all let it be for you to give as much of a damn about who runs your city as Washington. Sadly, municipal elections usually have less than half the turnout of the already low federal election participation — which was 61% of eligible voters in both 2012 and 2016. Those people whose names you probably don’t even know, get elected by about 20% of your neighbors, and have more to do with your day-to-day quality of life than all the presidents of your life combined. Or thereabouts.

But of course if this book was about mayoral elections, you wouldn’t be reading it. It’s about “the show.” Which we love. It’s the big one … with the leg-kicking Rockettes and half-time rock stars and fireworks of exploding heads every night on the TV sets of America. Not the preseason. Not the regular season. Some people watch that stuff — but everybody tunes in for the playoffs. Which, in U.S. Presidential politics, means from the summer conventions through the November elections. Or many don’t really tune in until the first Presidential debate in late September (usually) — but it’s the same four years as every Summer Olympics when we wave our flag and wear our team jersey and celebrate the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat.

And every election I’ve lived through was (rightfully called) “the most important election of our lifetime.” I dunno why that is or why it’s true, but it is. Well, maybe ‘96 wasn’t when Bill Clinton was just holding serve against the Roll–Hemp ticket. I mean, Dole–Kemp. We’re always at war or some damn thing. But in 2020 there is a proudly overtly racist fascist sociopath in the White House who’s cultivated a cult of straight-arm saluting devotees committed to re-electing “the greatest president we ever had.”

And so here we are.

25 different men and women from all demographics and backgrounds and philosophies threw their lives into the ring to be the 2020 Democratic nominee. At least this part of the grand game is a healthy democracy. Voters can choose from longtime socialists like Bernie, or longtime businessmen like Bloomberg, or practical centrists like Joe Biden, or non-politician outsiders like Andrew Yang.

I’ve been On The Trail on way or another since first seeing third party candidate John Anderson in 1980, to catching every candidate in New Hampshire in 2020 — 40 years On The Road as another Adventurer coined it — and you’re holding a good chunk of it in book form for the first time. Throughout this process of writing lots of new pieces up through March of 2020, I also found old clippings of stories past, old photographs & buttons, rediscovered old memories, and followed a paper trail of typed tales back to when computers were only props on Lost In Space.

Now there are trolls and bots and memes and apps, and as the old saying goes — “A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on” — is more true than ever. We are all living through a redefining of what democracy and even “truth” is.

I’m glad you’ve joined in this Adventure, and hopefully reading this book will inspire you to get involved and create your own stories for eternity.



Here’s where you can get Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy.

Here’s the first show for the book — a live stream on Facebook — where I perform a part of this live —

Here’s where you can get the first book in The Beat Trilogy — The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac.

Here’s the second book in the Trilogy — How The Beats Begat The Pranksters.

Here’s the third book in the Trilogy — On The Road with Cassadys and Furthur Visions.


by Brian Hassett   —

Or here’s my Facebook account if you wanna join in there —

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The Loopy Luvey Longtime Lowdown Lockdown Rap

August 31st, 2020 · Poetry


Here’s a live stream version . . . 


for Andy Clausen
and all the poets of eternity
wrapping a present

of the past for the future


Sleeping three or four times a day,
An hour or two a shot;
Vivid dreams in shutdown streams  —
Solo swimming in sunlight —
Surreality surfing in twilight
as Adventures soar

when the subconscious scores.

Stopped drinking
To go with stopped smoking;
But waking with muscles like I just chopped wood,
If a woodchuck could chuck
you know I would!

It’s all gone digital,
It’s all gone Dada;
Reality’s nada —
Keepin’ a Beat … when there’s none to hear!

Ran out of pot months ago,
Just when it became legal!
In the whole continent-wide Oh Canada I find myself locked in
— a big evergreen jail with the politest of prisoners
All holding the door open, but … no one leaving.
“Welcome to the Hotel Canada!”

That’s when I stopped smoking?!?!

Been hiding my stash for 40 years,
And now that it’s legal as 40 beers,
I don’t even bother ordering it from menus
With more pages than IHOP!

But keepin’ track of the dineros
Saved in sober scenarios,
As I watch movies with De Niros
About inspiring heroes
Gambling on truth 
And regaining their youth.

In the upside down
Of the cockeyed clown
Running mad all over town
Telling us even the postman’s in on it.


No more gas in the car
No more cars On The Road;
No more peeps for a crew —
What would Cassady do?

The Twilight Zone
Is now my Real-Life Home
A desolate future right on cue —
What would Rod Serling do?

Now Doctor Fauci’s writing scripts
Of a future that used to be fiction.

Why are we here? . . .
And why aren’t we there?
And how long will it be
Our social cupboard is bare?

It was interesting for a week,
For a dream, for a Test,
But I’m not waking up
And I’m not getting dressed!

I’m also not drinkin’ . . .
Or puffin’ or snortin’
Or poppin’ or droppin’
Or mixin’ or fixin’
to die just yet.

The yellow flag’s flapping,
The time-keeper’s napping;
The frame’s been condensed,
Intermission’s commenced,
But nobody’s loading the reel.

So let’s get real
Get goin’, get down, get busy, get crazy, 
“Get back to where you once belonged.”

In this big gift of time,
Never before and never again

Will we have all this space —
This lesson in Zen.

To sculpt our meaning
To write our work
To play our truth
In this cosmic quirk.

To paint our lives
On a canvas so big
You can’t even see the frame!

In a play so long
You can’t remember its name; 
In a performance so rich
You’ll never be the same.

So take the baton
And conduct your song;
What could go wrong
If you play it long?

Now’s The Time
Bird Parker sang,
Now’s your chance
To spring your sprang —

You don’t need nuthin’ 
But the time you got,
And you don’t need others
Cuz you got a lot,

To paint with colors
And paint with light, 
And check off dreams
And do ’em right.

It’s once in a lifetime
Lockdown lore;
Once in the nighttime
Fingers soar;
Life during wartime
Lions roar  — 
This is the time
You were born for.

So play your play
And write your rights,
Let’s make today
Your night of nights.



Here’s some rockin’ Adventure Tales for your 2020 poli-lockdown — Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy: Adventures in Politics — 1980 – 2020 — including 100 pages of meeting every candidate in New Hampshire in the Before Times.  😉 

Or here’s the book that kicked it all off — The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac: The Adventure of the Boulder ’82 On The Road Conference — Finding Kerouac, Kesey & The Grateful Dead Alive & Rockin’ in the Rockies.

Or here’s the joy of the connection between the most fun cultural movements of the 20th century — How The Beats Begat The Pranksters & Other Adventure Tales from London to New York to Toronto to San Francisco and lots of other side Trips.  😉 

Or here’s a whole multi-faceted portrait of the First Family of Beat — On The Road with Cassadys & Furthur Visions — which completes the sequentially written only-one-of-its-kind Beat Trilogy.

And of course there’s also the Epic Adventure of sneaking my van backstage at the big Woodstock ’94 festival — Holy Cats!  Dream-Catching at Woodstock — the only Woodstock since ’69 that worked — including parking & living right behind the main stage for the entire weekend.  The book peaks with a 100-page acid trip for the climactic Bob Dylan / Peter Gabriel night.  😉 



by Brian Hassett   —

Or here’s my Facebook account if you wanna join in there —

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What I Didn’t Know Then

July 26th, 2020 · Poetry

What I Didn’t Know Then

by Brian Hassett


“Democracy isn’t something you have,
It’s something you do,”
94-year-old Granny D shared for eternity.

Love isn’t something you receive,
It’s something you give.

A smile isn’t something you see,
It’s something you shine.

Truth isn’t something you know,
It’s something you share.

A hand isn’t something you hold,
It’s something you offer.

Wealth isn’t something you hoard,
It’s something you GIFT.

A word isn’t something you utter,
It’s something you keep.

We’re only here for a sliver of time,
Though when you’re young it seems like forever.

You’ve got one reputation,
And one occupation —
To do the right thing
For all whom you know
And all whom you don’t;

To do the kind thing
For the stranger among us
As the partner beside us;

To be the heart in the darkness,
The spark with the kindness,
With the will of a warrior
And the love of a mother.

Support your sister, support your brother,
Support your elder, support your younger;
The more harmony we sing,
The farther our voices carry.

Compliments are free to give,
But worth a million to receive;
So share your love with those you know,
And those you know to believe.

Your happiness is no one’s job
But your own;
Every day, and every night,
Do the work that makes you right.

Follow your soul and follow your heart,
Only you know – what sets you apart;
But know you do, when you quiet your mind,
Uncover the truth only you can find.

The sooner you practice forgiveness,
The longer you’ll live in the light;
The faster you run from malicious,
The stronger your beam will shine bright.

Don’t count on your next life — enjoy the buffet,
Don’t put off till tomorrow what’s sizzling today;
Give it your all and give it your best,
Cuz this go-round is the real Acid Test.


Here’s the piece set to some catchy upBeat world-beat funky-cool music by Gabriel Walker —


.This new poem will soon be in the international collection —

From the Ancestors: Poems and Prayers for Future Generations
a double album and book project — including 33 poets, musicians, singers, healers/curanderas/shamans from 20 countries, in 19 languages.
Release date is November 10, 2020.

Besides myself, folks included are —

Anne Waldman, NYC/USA
Ron Whitehead, Kentucky/USA
Andy Willoughby, England
Birgitta Jonsdottir, Reykjavik Iceland
Joy Harjo, Muscogee (Creek)/USA
Dr. Hilaria Cruz, Oaxaca Mexico/USA
Doris Kareva, Tallinn Estonia
Tanya Lind, Iceland
Iris Lican, Sintra Portugal
Michael White, Tennessee/USA
Jaouad El Garouge, Morocca
Thomas Bellier, Paris France
Aprilia Zank, Germany
Chryssa Velissarous, Greece
Vesa Lahti, Finland
Al Paldrok, Parnu Estonia
Frank Messina, NYC/USA
Amber Lee, NYC/USA
Aurelia Lassaque, France
Giulio Tedeschi, Italy
Wilfred Hildonen, Norway/Finland
Lee Pennington, Kentucky/USA
Greta Render Whitehead, Kentucky/USA
Bengt O Bjorklund, Sweden
Jeanette Aslaksen, Sami/Norway
Jaouad El Garouge, Morocco
Thomas Attar Bellier, France
Jared Zarantanello, USA
Patrick Latanga, Congo
Rani Whitehead, USA
Himeko Narumi, Japan
Theo Dorgan, Ireland
Seda Suna Uçakan, Turkey

Producers Ron Whitehead, Gabriel Walker, Matt Thomasson, Bill Hardesty, Yunier Ramirez. Executive Producers sonaBLAST! Records, Michael White, and Ron Whitehead. a sonaBLAST! Records and released for the global literary renaissance.

Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Gabriel Walker, Bill Hardesty, Matt Thomasson at Logan Street Recording Studios.  Music Composed and Produced by Gabriel Walker.

Music co-Produced by Matt Thomasson and Bill Hardesty.
Mastered by Kevin Nordstrom.
Book produced and edited by Ron Whitehead.
Cover art by Wilfred Hildonen.
Profits from this project will go to Kentucky Refugee Ministries/KRM, a non-profit organization in Louisville, Kentucky dedicated to providing resettlement services to refugees and promoting self-sufficiency and successful integration.

Here’s where you can get the above political book with the Granny D quote — Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy.

Here’s the first show for the book — a live stream on Facebook — where I perform a bunch of excerpts from it —

You can hear a Democrats Abroad podcast interview about the New Hampshire Adventures here.

Or here’s where you can get The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac — The Adventure of the Boulder ’82 On The Road Conference – Finding Kerouac, Kesey and The Grateful Dead Alive & Rockin’ in the Rockies 

Or here’s where you can get How The Beats Begat The Pranksters & Other Adventure Tales 

Or here’s where you can get On The Road with Cassadys & Furthur Visions — completing The Beat Trilogy 

Or here’s where you can get Holy Cats! Dream-Catching at Woodstock – all about the epic Woodstock ’94 Adventure


by Brian Hassett   —

Or here’s my Facebook account if you wanna join in there —

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Obama Election Night NYC 2008

June 29th, 2020 · Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy, New York City, Politics, Real-life Adventure Tales

Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy

I spent the afternoon getting all gussied up in my black velvet tails and Ben Franklin knickers with knee-high socks topped off with a top hat, accented with colorful Obama buttons, and everything underneath my waving homemade Obama pennant flag with a little red & white Canadian one on top.  All I needed was a clanging bell and some rolled parchment.

Heading into the Election Night, for the first time in my life, I was the most popular person in Harlem!  Looking like a “Hear-ye, hear-ye!” town crier from the American Revolution, I was carrying Obama’s flag into battle — lighting up faces of people who still hadn’t come close to learning English.  Shopkeepers were waving, and mothers were pointing me out to their small children.  Passing pedestrians were either breaking into huge smiles or full-out hollering, “Obama!”  It was dusk on the final day of The Nightmare From Texas, and minorities may have been happier than anyone that the lying war sap’s reign of error was finally ending.

Riding the subway through Harlem in black velvet regalia — facing beaming white smiles from dark African faces, shining and sharing across the aisle like Washington would soon be if all goes according to plan.  A little boy beside me was admiring my buttons, and finally says in the cutest voice, “All Barack!”  So I reached in my bag and found a button for him just before he got off.  And some guy was watching me do this, and he pulled out his keys from his pocket and wound off his little Obama key-chain and handed it to me across the subway car.  It’s the coolest thing and I’ll cherish it forever.  And so I looked in my bag and found another button and hand it across to him.  And there was some guy standing nearby smiling as he watched all this go down, and the guy I just gave the button to hands it to him.  A crowd got on right after that and we all got separated — but within seconds all us strangers had just given each other something for nothing.  America was changing right before our eyes.


Here’s where you can get Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy.

Here’s the first show for the book — a live stream on Facebook — where I perform the Top Hat in Harlem story —

Here’s some reviews and quotes about the book.

Here’s the Beat Museum’s Jerry Cimino’s Introduction for the book.



by Brian Hassett   —

Or here’s my Facebook account if you wanna join in there —

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“Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy” News & Reviews

May 31st, 2020 · Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy, Politics


Here’s the first live show for the book — a Facebook live stream for an online Prankster reunion — featuring The Franken Fracas, Obama’s election night, Abbie Hoffman, the climactic Bernie rally in New Hampshire & lots of other gems . . .


David Amram — Jack Kerouac’s principal musical collaborator

“Thanks for your Hip Herodotus History of Happenings!
“You really nailed the whole era, in addition to a crash course in Pranksterland and your account of the afternoon tribute to Abbie. 
“You showed a new generation your take on the relationship of the THEN and the NOW on the TV show we did together, and I know you’ll continue to do this in your OWN way, and that’s the whole idea!!”


David Wills, Beatdom — “This book is fantastic!”

The Beat Museum

There are very few people on the planet who know as much about the Beat Generation, their lives and their impact, as does my friend Brian Hassett. In a way, you could say Brian wrote the book on the Beat Generation. Multiple books, in fact. And at a level of storytelling and personal detail matched by very few. This is why when Brian told me he would be having a new book coming out and asked me to write the introduction, I quickly and happily said, “Yes!”

And that new book — Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy: Adventures in Politics 1980-2020 — is out this week. It’s a departure from his usual musings about the counterculture, and is just as important. It is an immersive look at the last 40 years of politics in our country from Brian’s own unique perspective. Rather than telling tales of what we’ve all been seeing through our TV screens, Brian once again, took a hands-on approach by showing up. He showed up in 1980 and in 2000 and again in 2020, and every election in between. Over and over again Brian has been on the scene and met the people who guide our day-to-day lives as we weather the politics of our age.

Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy is a personal tale filled with personal anecdotes of both the mighty and the fallen as only Brian can tell them — from the grandest hopes and aspirations of the highest profile people in the world to the crushing defeats and the rebuilding that follows.

Simon Warner
— author of Text, Drugs and Rock n Roll and Kerouac On Record —

Brian Hassett, Beat commentator and raconteur extraordinaire, switches tack with his new book, leaving the cool chaos of the counterculture for the wild waterfront of politics USA.  Like a latter-day Hunter S. Thompson, he straps on his laptop and heads out to the Wild West of Western democracy with sharp words his only defense.  There is even an introduction from Beat Museum boss Jerry Cimino!  What’s not to love?

David Schellenberg, Chair, Democrats Abroad

“Very nice book and stories. Going to New Hampshire and actually meeting all the candidates and getting a picture with every single one of them is a total game-changer.”

Mike Flynn, WUML — 

“You have been on the political scene for years, and have finally documented it, filling in that piece of the giant output of your literature documenting Adventure Tales from your life.”

“This book brings an insider perspective to what politics looks like on the ground, the human interaction, and what’s really happening — when so much of this stuff gets erased by history. What is the reality of people involved in politics and how has it changed over the years? That’s one of the interesting things that you get down in this book. It’s continuing the theme of what you do.”

“You’re the Gonzo journalist type who’s attracted to very interesting, colorful personalities, and you join them on their travels, and are able to communicate it in a way that the reader feels like they’re with you on these Adventures. It’s a really fantastic thing that you’re doing with your literary voice.”

The Democrats Abroad podcast — stories about the New Hampshire primary, with hosts David Schellenberg and Rachel Eugster (March 7th, 2020).

The Subjective Perspective interview (starting 22 minutes into the podcast) about Winnipeg, the Grateful Dead, Kerouac, Kesey, memory, Democratic unity, participating in democracy is fun, the Cassady family (April 29th, 2020).


Watch for upcoming shows . . . or you can order a copy here.

Or you can read The Beat Museum founder Jerry Cimino’s killer Introduction here.


by Brian Hassett   —

Or here’s my Facebook account if you wanna join in there —

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The Beat Museum’s Jerry Cimino Introduces Brian Hassett

April 30th, 2020 · Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy, Kerouac and The Beats, Politics, Weird Things About Me

Introduction to Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy (April 2020)


Sometimes you meet a person who thinks like you do, who views the world through a similar lens.  For me, Brian Hassett is one of those people.

We’re all products of our times, and Brian, being slightly younger than me, came of age in a different decade so our experiences are somewhat different.  But Brian understands history and he knows how everything in life must be viewed through an historical context.  I believe an understanding of history is critical to an understanding of life.  And Brian holds that same view.

Years before I ever met him in person, I had heard about Brian Hassett from our mutual friend John Allen Cassady, son of the Beat muse Neal Cassady.  John and I had first met in 1994 when he drove his mother Carolyn Cassady to a book signing at my wife Estelle’s bookstore in Monterey, California.  While Estelle interviewed Carolyn on stage in front of a hundred fans about the adventures she and her husband Neal had with writer Jack Kerouac as vividly described in her book Off The Road, her son John Allen and I walked across Alvarado Street to the Mucky Duck to grab a drink and swap stories.

I don’t remember if it was on that first night that John told me about his friend Brian Hassett who lived in Manhattan and worked in the rock ‘n roll world and had written for The Rolling Stone Book of The Beats, maybe that came later, but I do recall Brian’s name coming up many times over the years when John and I would meet up at various Northern California Beat Generation events.

I clearly remember John Allen and I discussing the possibility of meeting up with Brian in Toronto for a Beat Museum on Wheels event when we were planning our first East Coast tour in 2004 driving from California in The Mighty Beatmobile.  Unfortunately Canadian Customs insisted we inventory every single item we had on board in both the 35-foot RV and the 16-foot trailer that acted as a rolling bookstore.  This would have delayed us for days, so Brian and I were not destined to meet for another decade.

The moment of that great occasion didn’t occur until June 2015 when he came to San Francisco to host multiple panels at The Beat Shindig at Fort Mason sponsored and coordinated by The Beat Museum.  This became the largest Beat Generation gathering in the world since Allen Ginsberg organized the 1994 & ’95 NYU Conferences.  One day leading up to the Shindig, I was rushing down the stairs from my Beat Museum office when I turned a blind corner and bumped into a guy I immediately recognized as Brian.  We both stood back for a moment — realizing we were finally meeting face-to-face after having interacted from afar for so many years.  A big spontaneous bear hug ensued, and it was like we had never not known each other.  And that has proven true so many times since.

As I write this introduction for Brian’s latest book — his long awaited collection of stories on politics as he has known it up close and personal and as only Brian can tell them — I’m sitting in my office in North Beach directly across the street from Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s office at City Lights Bookstore, delayed in writing and glued to the TV because of the impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate of Donald J. Trump.

It’s fitting for me to be in this situation.  I’ve come to know Brian through our association with the Beat writers, and along the way we’ve discovered our mutual love of politics, and us having similar dispositions.  And just as Brian knows the Beats and the Pranksters like few people I’ve ever met, and can spin a tale and draw connections most people would never even consider with an inimitable style that is as distinct as it is entertaining, I know he can do so in the political arena as well.

Brian is the kind of guy who is always inquisitive, always into multiple storylines and overlapping dramas, and who suddenly drops everything and takes to the road because there is a story to uncover, a secret to suss out, or an experience to be had.

Brian is the guy who “shows up.”  He showed up at the 25th Anniversary of Kerouac’s On The Road in Boulder in 1982; he showed up for Bill Clinton’s inauguration; for the On The Road auction in NYC in 2001; for Obama’s 2008 election night and inauguration; and to be with Carolyn Cassady in 2012 when she needed him.

Brian Hassett knows history and politics as well as anyone I’ve ever known.  He has a way with words, his ideas flow effortlessly, and his stories are cogent, brilliant and always on point.  Brian brings connections together with gee-whiz enthusiasm and exacting detail most people have never even considered.  He has uncovered Beat mysteries that lay dormant for decades and he relates those stories in unique and compelling ways.  And now he’s tackling politics.

As Carolyn Cassady always liked to say — “Brian gets things done.”



You can get the Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy book here.

Here’s the first live show for the book — a Facebook live stream — featuring The Franken Fracas, Obama’s election night, Abbie Hoffman, the climactic Bernie rally in New Hampshire & lots of other gems . . .

Here’s some news & reviews about the book.

You can read all about that wild Beat Shindig Jerry mentions here.

Or the Boulder ’82 Adventure — The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac — here.

You can hear a Democrats Abroad podcast interview about the book here.

Or a more wide-ranging interview on the book plus the Beats and Pranksters and life itself with the Subjective Perspective crew out of Northern California is here.

The Beat Museum that Jerry Cimino founded can be found here.


by Brian Hassett   —

Or here’s my Facebook account if you wanna join in there —

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Bernie Sanders’ campaign climax in New Hampshire

March 24th, 2020 · Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy, Politics, Real-life Adventure Tales

Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy excerpt



Following the climactic election eve rally of the 2020 New Hampshire primary with Bernie Sanders at a hockey arena  . . . 

The most extraordinary thing happened when it was over.  As the thousands of kids streamed out of the arena, right next to it was a big outdoor skating pond, and in the joy of the frozen midnight moment in New Hampshire, students began climbing over the fence and figure skating on it without skates.

Here were the children of the euphoric night, inspired by a politician to dance the light fandango, waving blue Bernie signs as their batons — running and sliding, cheering and laughing, pirouetting in moonlight, and celebrating their first brush with democracy.

Bernie’s rock star rally had flashed me back to Gary Hart and 1984 — but this was taking me all the way back to my childhood in Winnipeg and going for skates in the early darkness of winter nights on a pond full of happy people in a tranquil town reveling in the simple pleasures of frozen water.

Snowbanks surrounded the ice, everyone’s breath was visible in the misty night, cheeks were turning rosy, and strangers were hugging strangers in a land where they let the children hug.  Democracy had played out for the last week in New Hampshire, and now voters were out playing in the last hours before tomorrow’s voting.

I’m the guy who spots a cool assemblage of friends and wrangles everyone together to get a group photo, but I didn’t know anyone here, and everyone was spread out all over the ice.

And then the next amazing thing happened.

You know those sprawling group photos taken at center ice when an NHL team wins the Stanley Cup?  And you know who Wayne Gretzky is?  Did you know he invented those?

It was when he won his last Cup with the Oilers in 1988 at a game in their Edmonton home town — their fourth in five years. After the players had skated around the rink hoisting the Cup above their adrenaline heads, Captain Gretzky grabbed it back and suddenly started waving the players to center ice to take a group shot with the authentic sweat and victory joy still fresh on all their faces.  First it was just the core players, but more and more trainers & coaches & managers and all the people who made the team work came running from the sidelines sliding into the group.

Well, that very scene played out on the frozen pond with this team celebrating the Sanders Cup on home ice.  First, about a dozen friends gathered for a group shot, and I ran over in the role of photographer to capture their collective joy, including because there wasn’t a single member of press present.  I was it.

And as I snapped at their hooting faces, more people saw what was happening and came shushing across the ice and sliding into them like a cartoon of calamity.  I had to keep backing up to get their ever-expanding team in the frame, and more student photographers with phones joined my press pool.  All that was missing was a big silver Cup in the middle.


From first catching Deval Patrick in a small dark basement room in a library, the New Hampshire primary built to a massive open-air love-in of screaming joy.  This was democracy in action in real time in America.  From old folks gathering in a gym on a Tuesday afternoon to hear Joe Biden to thousands of college kids filling an arena and spontaneously creating their own escapades of Ice Capades, participation in the political process is healthy and thriving.  It’s not any one group or one voice, but a collective of choirs singing songs of joy and progress, of innocence and experience — and forever Going Furthur.


Here’s where you can get Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy book.

Here’s the first live show for the book — a Facebook live stream — featuring The Franken Fracas, Obama’s election night, Abbie Hoffman, the climactic Bernie rally in New Hampshire & lots of other gems . . .

Here’s some news & reviews about the book.

Here’s Beat Museum founder Jerry Cimino’s killer Introduction.

Here’s some more Adventures like this with even more of a Kerouac feel — The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac.

Here’s a podcast about some of the New Hampshire Adventures on the Democrats Abroad show.

Here’s another excerpt from the upcoming poli book Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy.

Here’s some Adventures from the last time a Democrat was inaugurated as President.

You can hear a recent interview with Democrats Abroad about some of the New Hampshire Adventures here.


by Brian Hassett  —   —

Or here’s my Facebook account if you wanna join in there —

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Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy

February 29th, 2020 · Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy, Politics, Real-life Adventure Tales


Friday February 7th was the big nationally televised Democratic debate from Manchester.  I tried every angle to get tickets, but even longtime plugged-in politicos told me they were shut out.  Made me feel a smidge better.

The obvious thing was to go to the DoubleTree Hotel in Manchester.

Manchester’s the main city in New Hampshire — population all of 110,000 — has only one main hotel downtown.  It used to be a very cool Radisson, but Hilton took it over in 2018 and frankly it’s nowhere near as good as it was during my last primary there in 2004 when there was a massive bar with an overlooking restaurant, and it was a helluva scene.  Now it’s all different.

As I walked into the lobby to head to the bar, I noticed a long line going in the other direction.  “What’s this?”

“It’s a live taping of the Chris Hayes show.  It’s the debate-watch, then you have to stay to be in the studio audience until 1.”

“Do they serve beer?”

Awkward pause.  “I don’t think so.”

So I went and checked the lobby bar — and it was so small I had to ask if it was the only one.  The old Radisson had this great bar lined with TVs with all the different news networks on them, plus a big open restaurant space.  All of that was gone and replaced by this small airport lounge type joint in the lobby with two TVs behind the bar … showing sports in the middle of the primary!

This wasn’t right.  So I went back over to the Chris Hayes line, and found out everybody had to be registered in advance to be in the studio audience, but I went and talked to the organizers and pitched the idea of filling in for somebody didn’t show up, and they let me stand over on the side until the line when through the metal detectors and into the hall — and sure as heck they let me in!

I had no idea what to expect, but they had a free fancy coffee station and were bringing out nonstop boxes of pizza so it seemed to be off to a good start.  Apparently in the complete architectural overhaul of the hotel, they built a massive open exhibition space about an acre in size attached to the hotel that NBC had rented and turned into their “New Hampshire Election Headquarters,” broadcasting almost all their MSNBC shows from different studios built throughout it.

Going in, they’d given New Hampshire residents wristbands, and had them all sit in the middle section in front of the Chris Hayes set, so for the post-debate live show he could walk among them to get local undecided voters’ reactions to the debate.  (Amy won.)

The two-hour ABC debate was shown on a cube of giant 10′-x-20′ hi-def screens in the center of the massive room, while the All In production crew did different camera blockings and chair markings for the various segments that were all gonna go down live as soon as the debate ended.  Hanging around the perimeter were a bunch of politicos who would end up taking an on-air chair later — Michael Moore, Howard Fineman, Jonathan Alter, Lawrence O’Donnell, Joy Reid, David Corn and others.

The debate itself was the last of the civil exchanges before the gloves came off in Nevada and South Carolina in the coming weeks.  It was also the last one with ol’ Andrew Yang, and the last without Michael Bloomberg.  Newly crowned co-frontrunner Bernie Sanders finally started to take some direct challenges on a debate stage, including about what trump was gonna do with Bernie’s self-attached label of “socialist” and his history of voting against the Brady Bill and other gun legislation.  Like the experienced politician his base pretends he’s not, he deflected & pivoted with the best of them.  His co-winner out of Iowa, Pete Buttigieg, the young “debate team captain” as I like to call him, and the one who can compose complete and complex sentences on the fly better than anyone on the stage, also took lots of incoming, including from Amy Klobuchar about how he said the impeachment hearings were exhausting and how he’s rather turn the channel and “watch cartoons instead” — an unfortunate comment from someone who looks not far removed from cartoon watching age.

After his disappointing fourth-place finish in Iowa, Biden picked up his game and was more forceful and articulate than he’d been heretofore.  “We should pin a medal on Colonel Vindman not Rush Limbaugh,” he said with fire in his eyes, speaking to both the moment and the room, to great applause.

My Girl Liz has just never caught on and didn’t win many converts in this debate.  Particularly Liz, but really all these candidates, do better in the hour-long town halls that CNN and others occasionally host.  Although she’d distinguish herself by coming out swinging in the debates that followed, her attempt at being “the unity candidate” didn’t seem to be uniting voters behind her.

I don’t know what Tom Steyer’s doing on the stage.  I understand his ad buys juiced his polling numbers in a couple states allowing him to qualify, but over the last year talking politics with thousands of people I’ve never come across a single Steyer supporter.  And poor ol’ Andrew Yang.  It felt like it watching, but got confirmed afterwards — both Bernie & Biden had the mic for roughly 20 minutes each, and Andrew Yang spoke for 8.  He’s a nice, smart, funny, altruistic, forward-thinking guy — but that and a dollar will get him on the subway.

Which all brings us to Amy Klobuchar who seemed to be the consensus pick for winner of the debate.  She would be rewarded a few days later by a strong third-place finish in New Hampshire and become a poster child for how debates can change momentum.  The first thing I noticed — I know it’s absurdly superficial, but — her hair looked great!  I even mentioned it to the woman sitting next to me, about how it oval-arc around her face looked like Jennifer Aniston on Friends, and the woman about Amy’s age next to me heartily agreed.  She had a funny line about how “59 is the new 38” to Mayor Pete, and managed to get in that she had been endorsed by the three biggest newspapers in New Hampshire, to go along with the the New York Times dual endorsement of both her and Warren.  And the escalating poetry of her closing statement about empathy brought down the house — the combination of all of which is part of what spiked her up into the top tier of candidates.

As soon as the debate wrapped, the EMT-like production team leapt into action.  The woman director patrolled the perimeter of the giant studio with a headset directing the action.  Her second in command physically directed camera movements with his long arms as a visual to her audio directives, as well as clapped and cued the audience of around 200 when needed.  Chris was center stage reading the intros and outros from the teleprompter but otherwise improvising.  This is his game, his life.  He could riff this stuff till tomorrow and not run out of ideas.

At the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland in 2016
Photo by Jeremy Hogan

In the first segment, he wandered out into the New Hampshire wristband-wearing part of studio audience.  I saw a seat chart on somebody’s clipboard with certain aisle seats highlighted — I guess people they’d assessed were articulate and camera-friendly.  “Who do you think won the debate and why?” was the go-to question — and “Amy” seemed the come-back answer.

They did remote interviews with both Amy and Liz that looked like every other cross-country satellite interview — except the two rooms were only two miles apart in tiny Manchester.

The first post-debate panel was the first-line all-stars to open the show — Chris Matthews, Joy Reid, Lawrence O’Donnell, and Alicia Menendez for the Latino perspective.  And then there was another one with David Corn and a couple others it’s driving me nuts that I can’t remember their names.  And then Michael Moore came out for a fun one-on-one with Chris to close the show.

To be completely confessional I didn’t take notes on what they were saying because 1) — It wouldn’t look proper as a studio audience member to be sitting there taking notes like a reporter.  They told us “no photo taking during the taping” — that we were part of the show.  This isn’t a rally in a gymnasium — we’re on-camera extras in a live-broadcast movie.  I can respect that.  And 2) — I figured the whole show (like the debate itself) would be posted to YouTube or the NBC site or something, so this would be one part of The Epic Adventure I could relive later and not have to be committing to memory as it happened.  But I was wrong.  The one gig I thought would be preserved in hi-def in perpetuity doesn’t even have notes on paper to show for itself.

After the live show, the audience mostly left, but of course I hung and jammed with the band.  Ol’ Michael Moore was hangin’ around and we started talking about growing up in the Midwest and how that’s so different from the coasts.  And about Canadian healthcare and that Bernie was right to be saying we can do it right 50 miles from his house.  Oh and I told him with a laugh about how I loved that scene in his Sicko movie going to the teller’s booth in the hospital in England but how they were actually paying him money.  He’s a great storyteller.  And he’s on our side.  And that’s a good thing.


And then there was the whole post-debate hang in the airport lounge bar in the DoubleTree lobby.  This was the jam.



Here’s where you can get the new book Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy book.

Here’s the first live show for the book — a Facebook live stream — featuring The Franken Fracas, Obama’s election night, Abbie Hoffman, the climactic Bernie rally in New Hampshire & lots of other gems

Here’s a podcast about the New Hampshire Adventures on the Democrats Abroad show.

Here’s some news and reviews about the book.

Here’s The Beat Museum founder Jerry Cimino’s killer Introduction.

Here’s some Adventures from Obama’s first Inauguration.

Here’s what it was like being at the big election party in New York City on Obama’s first election night.

Here’s a Bernie Sanders Rally Adventure from Bloomington Indiana in 2016.

Here’s how I first got into politics — at a Gary Hart rally in NYC in 1984.

Here’s the crazy Republican convention Adventure in Cleveland in 2016.


by Brian Hassett  —   —

Or here’s my Facebook account if you wanna join in there —

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